Battery-powered Boostaroo improves sound of...

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August 16, 1999

Battery-powered Boostaroo improves sound of portables

Here's a fun little gizmo: the Boostaroo ($17.95), an amplifier and audio splitter for portable stereo gear. Let's face it: That tape player you hastily bought at the drugstore before your big beach weekend has all the fidelity of a tin can telephone. The battery-powered (two AAs) Boostaroo can help.

The Boostaroo plugs into the headphone jack of any audio device that has a mini stereo plug. Your headphones plug into it. Once switched on, the Boostaroo cranks up the signal, giving you a brighter, more powerful sound. It doesn't work magic, but it provides a noticeable improvement.

The Boostaroo's other feature is a splitter that sends the signal to three audio outputs. This way, you can plug three sets of headphones into your portable stereo without any loss of audio quality.

One great use of the Boostaroo is on airline audio systems. How many times have you cranked up your seat's volume to "11" and still been barely able to hear the music? Or you have volume but terrible fidelity? Boostaroo to the rescue -- and you can share your improved audio with your seat mates.

Information: 800-800-4354 or www.boostaroo.com.

-- Gareth Branwyn

Compact floppy drive plugs into USB port

Last month I needed to install a floppy-only piece of software -- there are still a few of these around -- onto my new, floppy-deficient G3 Macintosh. I could have e-mailed the program to myself from another computer (an all-too-frequent maneuver among iMac owners), but instead, I decided to bite the bullet and buy VST's USB Floppy Drive ($89).

The USB Floppy Drive is compact, 6 inches by 4 inches and about three-quarters of an inch thick. It's light and made of translucent blue and white plastic, the increasingly annoying colors of the original iMac. A clear USB cable, just under 1 1/2 feet long, is permanently attached to the back of the drive. It reads both Mac and PC disks.

The best feature of the VST Drive is that there's no power cord -- it draws power directly from the USB cable. USB devices can be plugged and unplugged with impunity while your computer is running, a convenient feature among new computer peripherals. A USB-based floppy drive also makes a lot of sense because modern, floppy-less computers always have USB ports.

My main concern with my new drive is the short cable length. It severely limits placement. If your computer sits on the floor, the cable might not be long enough to put the drive within easy reach. A longer cable would have made a world of difference.

The floppy disk isn't completely dead yet; like the psycho in a bad slasher film, it will probably have to be killed once or twice more. As long as we're still stuck with them, VST's USB Floppy Drive isn't a bad way to kill time while waiting around for the wake.

Information: 978-263-9700 or www.vsttech.com.

-- Andrew Sasaki

For full reviews of these and other gadgets, visit www.streettech. com.

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